ZillianOP Scandal Part 2

A few days ago once again Twitch TV had some controversy rise it’s head as one stream, ZillianOP, was banned. Apparently, he was banned a while back after being accused of botting. There was a vocal community backlash both for and against the banning when it was noticed that he used a botting program. He ardently defended himself with various excuses such as calling his actions along the lines of “testing.”

Somehow for some reason, he managed to get his account with Twitch reinstated (I don’t know how and I don’t really care). You would see him pop on the stream once in a while. But on this particular night he “got up” while taking a break. The reason this got so much heat is that the streamer proclaimed himself as a disabled person and collected at least $8k in donations that were meant to go for a new wheelchair. There were tons of stories from him about not getting disability, getting into an accident, etc.

The bottom line is that he scammed people. Of course, he attempted to defend himself saying that he fell, but if you’ve seen the videos, it’s quite apparent that this was no miracle. Considering that he had been sloppy in the past and exposed himself, this situation just reinforces the fact that this guy is a scammer.

Others like Kripparian put their thoughts out on the situation. My feeling is pretty strong in this situation. I typically don’t donate in the first place because I want to know the person in particular as well as the cause and how my money is being used. When I was up in UC Berkeley for a while, I would see tons of scammers in the form of kid punks asking for drug/beer money, homeless crackheads and just panhandlers sticking their cup in front of you on the South side along Telegraph street. Fortunately, that situation wisened me up quite quickly and made me pretty sympathetic for real homeless people because jackasses like these end up taking advantage of people. At that point, you become disgruntled and no longer want to donate your money because everything feels like a giant swindle.

In addition, I used to work in Santa Monica along the Promenade. There you can see all types of homeless people. Most are actually homeless but they have a horrible attitude problem that discourages me from ever giving them a dime. A friend of mine once told me a story how he bought a burger from Fat Burger (back when they had it) and gave it to some homeless guy. The homeless guy ended up scolding my friend and ordered him, “to get rid of the onions because he didn’t like onions.” My friend was pretty disgusted because he sacrificed his own lunch for the homeless guy. After that he never bothered talking to any of those people again.

In my own experience, the situation was pretty disheartening. You would see ridiculous posters. I recall one time while driving to work on the corner of the 90 Marina Del Rey freeway exit, some guy had a sign out that read, “My UFO crashed 9 miles from here. I need money to get back.” Another sign from a homeless guy at the Promenade read, “Michael Jackson died the other day and I need a quarter for a beer.” How fucking stupid is that?

Probably, one of the earlier experiences I had in this situation was when I hit South Coast Plaza one day with my folks. There was a kid with a sign saying he was homeless. I really felt bad for him as he was obviously pretty young and didn’t have anything. Later, someone told me about this family that setup shop around South Coast Plaza and was making something like $65k/year. I was pretty outraged but it made sense because of the location (South Coast Plaza is a fairly upscale shopping center). Still, it’s disgusting to see at what depths people will sink to.

Now, particularly with ZillianOP the situation hits me pretty hard because my mom is disabled from the right side. She’s been slowly recovering through acupuncture. But not once have we received any kind of hand outs from individuals who would go, “Oh, you poor things.” As mad as I am at my mom for allowing herself to get into this situation, I still feel some sympathy. Both my mom and my father were honest folk for the most part, paid their taxes, labored and tried to live the typical American life. I find it incredibly unfair how those that manage to be publicly visible get special treatment whereas those who actually try to have an honest living but might need that extra help once in a while get nothing.

But that’s how this world operates. This guy probably will be sued and tossed in jail. But others like him will continue. I mean we do have Wallstreet and yet we allow those criminals to exist unpunished. The thing is that karma is a bitch and he’s going to be some inmates bitch pretty soon. Maybe he should livestream that for donations.

Diablo 3: Zillianop Drama and Game Implications

I was reading about some drama over on the forums with regards to a twitch.tv streamer who goes by the name Zillianop. The drama entailed him getting his account banned over botting but more so how he had been conning viewers into donating gold and money for him. Many of the comments on the forums were quite scathing towards him, many feeling betrayed and saying the guy got what he deserved.

However, the overall tone of the forums and how someone like this took advantage of a system made me ponder about Blizzard’s so-called design of their game. First, I’ve stated in the past that the introduction of the auction house and especially the Real Money Auction House has been a highly unethical decision on Blizzard’s behalf. I can see how they viewed taking advantage of Diablo 2’s situation in the past and wanting a cut in the auction (similar to how Ticketmaster designed Ticket Exchange to combat or rather get their hands in the secondary market for tickets i.e. scalping).

The thing is the game currently is designed to encourage competitive farming for money. Although Blizzard will outwardly lie in stating that they believe no one should use this as a permanent replacement for a job (come on, gold farming companies in China? You can’t be that ignorant Blizzard!), people have been using it to make some cash. The thing for Blizzard is that they ultimately control the rules on the cash flow, which makes the system entirely arbitrary.

So here’s the pain point for me: should a system like this be encouraged? Should we continue to put a company like Blizzard on a high pedestal for having a good reputation in the past? Or should we as a gaming community start to dismantle them for creating this monstrous platform?

The thing is that guys like Zillianop might have been created through a system like this, discovering that he could make an easy living. We can never truly know the extent of Zillianop’s nature as a conartist. Was it the system that encouraged him to take advantage of it? Or was he by nature already like this and just finding loopholes in the system to sneak inside?

For me, games should be focused around a single purpose: entertainment. Companies like Zynga introduced models that I believe are too short term focused but gave them a lot of praise from the financial community. However, the core products still lack substance which is why you’re seeing Zynga slowly die off. Then when you see a situation like a Zillianop where people are taking an idea that’s supposed to be centered around entertainment and manipulating to financial gain and duping the masses, you know that the idea in itself has become corrupted and must be re-examined thoroughly.

Truthfully, I’m surprises Blizzard/Activision/Viviendi has not been shut down or accused by the US government over the Real Money Auction House because of the gambling implications. Everyone knows that Diablo 3 is essentially premised around the slot machine mentality. However, connecting the slot machine mentality to real money implies gambling. Considering that Blizzard is located in California, I really have no idea how they managed to skirt around the rules (except through some sort of bribery). By the way, this is another example of why the Real Money Auction House is unethical.

Regardless, Blizzard/Activision/Viviendi are walking on thin ice right now. In the short term, they’ll win out due to the amount of money they’re making. However, from a product point of view, I feel strongly in saying that they no longer have the edge. Any good game designers can come in and create a better product that can wipe their franchises away. And it’s not really a matter of the product, but the mentality behind the company. As long as Viviendi and Bobby Kotick continue to dictate how Blizzard is run, the company will be constantly threatened by themselves once the gaming community revolts against them and begin to support upcoming studios and franchises who do not have as ruthless of a capitalistic mentality as Bobby Kotick and Viviendi.